PPRC Friday Rally Looks to the State of the Union, Condemns Bush’s Speech as Fear-Mongering Campaign Propaganda.

Event: PPRC Friday Rally Looks to the State of the Union
Date: Friday, January 21st, 2004
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Place: Pioneer Courthouse Square

The Portland Peaceful Response Coalition 5:00 p.m. Friday rally and march for peace at Pioneer Courthouse Square will turn to the State of the Union, reflecting on the elements of Bush’s latest address to the nation. "Whereas President Roosevelt galvanized a nation with his immortal words ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’1 we now suffer Bush’s campaign slogan: ‘Let’s keep fear alive!", said Mikel Clayhold, one of the many Friday rally regulars. "Bush continues his war on our democracy, whipping up the ‘nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror’ that Roosevelt warned against over half a century ago." Clayhold noted what was missing from the address, saying "Bush’s strategy is to instill fear with the aim that Americans will forget the lies they’ve been told and the lives that have been squandered in his criminal wars."

"There was nothing said of the thousands of deaths in Iraq, over five hundred US soldiers and over 16,000 Iraqis killed, no mention of the lies about weapons of mass destruction or uranium shipments, no mention of the lies about links to al-Qaeda, no discussion of the growing insecurity in Iraq, the almost daily attacks on US soldiers and Iraqi civilians, no mention of the growing opposition to US ‘transition’ plans," said Clayhold. "But we say ‘No!’ to the fear that Bush has to offer, and we say ‘No!’ to Bush’s permanent war on our democracy, and we say ‘No!’ to the crony corporate corruptions of his no-bid contracts to Halliburton, paid for by US tax payers and the lives of US soldiers."

"What other resident of the White House has his speech prefaced by assurances that it’s been checked for accuracy," asked Tina Hulbe, a frequent rally MC. "Such statements are a tragic reminder of the lies that have carried our nation into a misguided and criminal war in Iraq." The Associated Press quoted White House communications director, Dan Bartlett, saying that "I can assure you that it’ll all be fact-checked just right."2

"Bush promised to give U.S. troops the best equipment possible, but we ask why that wasn’t done before he sent them to war," said Hulbe. "Bush claims all is going well in Afghanistan, that women are free and children are back in school, and yet anybody who read the recent Mercy Corps report in the Oregonian knows better." Hulbe cited cases of threatening notes, posted on homes and in the streets, telling women to stay home and girls to stay out of school. "The fundamental infrastructure necessary before any lasting change is accomplished is not being built," said Hulbe. "While the new constitution does in fact mention women - and for that the women of Afghanistan should be cheered, not the president of the United States - it does so in only the slightest possible way." Hulbe also took issue with Bush’s claims about new freedom for the Iraqi people. "Here too women are afraid to leave their homes," said Hulbe. "In a country where women used to have rights equal to men, fear of crime and sectarian violence now traps them indoors." Hulbe cited recent proposals for a Sharia-based (Islamic law) constitution that would further reduce women’s autonomy. Those opposed to the Iraq war and occupation also doubted Bush’s commitment to a genuine transition to Iraqi democracy. "The US occupation authorities cancelled the plan for a national census, the first step in organizing democratic elections, and in place of elections, the governing council " hand-selected by the United States and filled mainly with out-of-touch exiles who now spend as little time living in the country as possible " will nominate participants in a ‘caucus’ process," explained Hulbe. "This is government by an elite few, not full Iraqi sovereignty." Others were more blunt in their assessment of the transition plans. "Bush is setting up a puppet government in Iraq," said Jody Heatlie, a volunteer with the PPRC. "This is obvious to the Iraqi people, it’s obvious to the international community, and it is equally obvious that this will only lead to increased attacks and opposition to the US occupation.""

1. The quotation in this case is from Franklin Roosevelt’s March 4th, 1933 First Inauguration Address.
2. "Bush picks words carefully in speech, but some still fell off the mark" , by Calvin Woodward, Associated Press Writer, January 20, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle online.

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